Why Diets Don’t Work

This is probably going to offend a lot of people, but I don’t really care. Here’s a list of signs that the “diet” you’re following probably isn’t going to provide long-term, sustainable weight-loss. If your diet has even ONE of these signs, in my opinion, you’re on the wrong track. And believe me, I’ve tried a lot of diets and these diets don’t work.

  • Involves a specific focus on a few key foods (“the juice diet,” “the cookie diet,” “the all-fruit diet,” “the all-vegetable diet,” etc.).
  • Tells you to avoid all fat, all carbs, or all protein.
  • Tells you that you don’t need to exercise or work out to lose weight.
  • Involves a very low-calorie intake (<1200).
  • Lasts only a certain amount of time, (e.g. “30-day challenge” diets).

Here’s why they don’t work:

1) Most diets try to “starve the fat.” This means they introduce hunger and cravings. If you are hungry, or you are craving certain foods, you will eventually fail. Period.

2) Your typical “diet” will slow down your metabolic rate because it requires such a massive calorie drop. Ever felt lethargic after being on a low-calorie diet for a long period of time? This is called adaptive thermogenesis (look it up). It’s a key reason why weight-loss progress on a typical diet starts out quick and then slows over time. This same principle also makes it harder to exercise and work-out, rather than easier.

3) Most “diets” don’t take muscle mass into account, so while you may be losing weight and fat, you are probably also losing muscle. Science says that if you are “dieting” and not doing any kinds of resistance training, 30-50 percent of your weight loss can come from muscle… eek! The risk gets even higher if your protein intake is too low.

4) Super low-calorie diets are scientifically proven to significantly impact your hormone and thyroid levels. If you don’t feed your body properly, you can’t expect it to function normally. Testosterone, T3, T4, leptin, and cortisol will all be completely knocked out of normal ranges in as little as a week on a very low-calorie diet. You have to eat at a calorie deficit—but an EXTREME calorie deficit is really bad.

A Case Study

A book I’m reading right now uses this example to illustrate the problem with very low-calorie diets, diets that don’t require exercise or short-term weight-loss diets.

Take your typical 30-day diet… Let’s use “Brad” as an example case-study in what happens. Before the diet:

* 200 lbs total body weight
* 36 lbs (18%) body fat
* 164 lbs of lean body mass

Brad went on a 1,500 calorie-a-day diet. In the first week, he lost 5 pounds and was pretty happy. The second week he lost 4 pounds, the third week he lost 3 pounds, and the next 4 weeks straight he lost 3 pounds each, for a total of 21lbs. The scale shows the diet was a huge victory… but the specifics tell another story:

* 179lbs total body weight
* 26.5lbs (14.8%) body fat
* 152.5lbs of lean body mass

Brad lost 55% of his weight from lean body mass! That drop in muscle decreased his metabolism, and now he’s burning FAR FEWER calories each day then when he started (both because he’s lighter, but more importantly, because he doesn’t have the muscle he used to… and muscle burns fat). He just decreased his ability to process food properly.

Six weeks later, Brad has put all the weight back on (because he went back to eating the way he used to, which his body is no longer capable of handling)… But the new weight came back on as fat, not muscle mass.

Now he has less muscle, more fat, and a slower metabolism than when he started. He literally damaged his metabolism, and, as a result, the next round of dieting is going to be even harder than the last.

Note that the exact same thing happens to women. In fact, women are probably more susceptible to metabolic damage than men, according to Mayo Clinic research.

So what makes a GOOD weight-loss plan? (Notice I didn’t call it a “diet”)

1) It’s a habit. Not a diet. It should be sustainable for the long-term (which means you have to be able to eat the foods you like, in moderation). You also can’t be hungry all the time.

2) It incorporates exercise. You have to figure out a way to maintain your muscle. (Keeping that protein ratio balanced with your other ratios is a big help… but so is incorporating resistance training).

3) It provides your body with ALL of the energy it needs. Again, this comes down to feeding yourself the right ratio of carbs, protein, and fat.

4) It doesn’t cut your calories too low. We all want to lose weight quickly, but you can’t risk forcing your body to burn muscle to get the energy it needs. It looks good on the scale, but the damage is extensive.

All this in mind, getting started on something healthy is hard. Really hard. It’s really different from what you’re used to. It may take 4 or 5 weeks before it’s really and truly COMFORTABLE. But its worth it.

Let the hate comments flow… I warned you in advance that this might be offensive.

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